Thursday, January 29, 2015

Blogs You Seriously Should Be Reading

I love reading blogs. I do a happy dance whenever there's a new post by a favorite blogger of mine.

Olivia wrote a post a while ago about her favorite blogs, and I thought I'd follow her example and make one of my own - to (as she put it!) share the blogging love.

Without further ado, here are some of the blogs that I happy-dance about.

The Cwtch
Olivia's blog, The Cwtch, is simply the loveliest place to be. The posts are always different - sometimes you get a deep, beautiful, thought-provoking post, and sometimes you get a recipe for pad thai. You never know what you're getting into, but it's always something good. Olivia's a talented writer (she even posts her poetry sometimes!) and such a sweet person. I really love this blog!

Cait is going to rule the world someday, so you might want to consider becoming one of her minions. Seriously, though, Paper Fury is my favorite book blog ever. I always appreciate her honest (and often hilarious) reviews and her impeccable taste in GIFs. If you like bookish things, you need to check this blog out.

Fantasy Gypsy is a fabulous blog. I'm always blown away by Hannah's writing, and her posts are honest and put together beautifully. Like, I don't even know what else to say, just go check it out. #impressive

Emily is a super cool and nice person, and her blog certainly reflects that. She's a published author (ahhhh!), and it's been fascinating to hear about her writing/publishing experience. (Also she has adorable nieces and nephews, and she often posts about the hilarious things they say. So that's a plus)

This Emily is also a published author (what even!!) and an all-around lovely person. Her blog is full of things like book reviews, blogger interviews, and snippets of stories. (p.s - Emily and Emily Ann are currently posting a story called Ain't We Got Fun on their blogs through a series of fictional letters. It's so good. If you haven't already, you need to check that out.)

Abbey's posts are always fun to read. She posts fashion inspiration (her outfit posts are the, vlogs, and reviews. Also she's just plain adorable!

Kate's blog is inspirational and always makes me think. Not only are her words awesome and unique, but her photography is, too. If you're not following this gal you probably need to get on that ASAP.

Kristin is great at reviewing books and movies. I've gotten some awesome recommendations from her. She also knits beautiful things, loves old movies, and is a Whovian! Her blog is really good.

Elizabeth's blog is a place that any Tolkien fan, Austenite, or bookworm would love. I can always count on Elizabeth for someone to fangirl with or get book recommendations from. She's been blogging for less than a year, but she's already a pro. How did she do that?!?

Sarah's (or SW's) blog is full of beautiful quotes, pretty pictures, and well-written reviews. I really like this blog.

The really cool thing about Susanna's blog is that I always learn something new from it. Susanna often posts about other countries and their unusual foods (mochi cake, anyone?) and shares about her adventures. It's a fascinating blog!

Chloe posts fun and helpful things - for example, 7 Ways to Make the Most of Instagram - as well as insightful posts like Dear Christian Girls: Stop Writing Future Husband Checklists. I only recently found this blog, and I'm loving it!

Feel free to make a post like this yourself!


Friday, January 23, 2015


I've never really payed any attention to my blog's birthday, but a few weeks ago I realized that a big one was coming up!

Get this: I started blogging five years ago today. A whole five years ago! I was 13 years old!

A Snippet of Conversation from January 23rd, 2010:

"Hey Mom and Dad, can I make a blog?"
"Sure! That's a great idea."
*five minutes later*
" do you make a blog?"

I started off on WordPress. This was my first post:

Hey everyone! I just wanted to tell you about what this blog is going to be about, and what kind of stuff I’m going to post. I’m going to post American Girl news and info, tell about books I love and recommend, share crafts & recipes, do Show and Tell Wednesdays, and other fun stuff.  Expect new posts and fun stuff soon!

Some of the first photos I ever posted:

I was really proud of those. Don't judge.

Once I moved over to Blogger, I remember how excited I was to reach 10 followers. I jumped up and down and told my whole family. I was amazed that ten people liked my blog enough to press the follow button!

And now - I'm so blessed to have so many lovely readers who read my posts and leave encouraging comments. Thank you so much, you guys.

(This is my there-are-so-many-of-you-wow face. Except I'm not Merlin. Unfortunately.)

Having a blog has been awesome. I've loved thinking up new ideas for posts, sharing my photos (which have thankfully gotten a bit better), and being able to get my thoughts and fangirly feels out there. I like being able to look back over my old posts (despite how cringe-worthy they are) and seeing how I've changed - sort of like looking back over old diaries. And of course, one of my very favorite things about blogging is getting to know you all and being a part of a little blogging community.


It's just - I love being a blogger. So much.

I wrote this post mainly to say THANK YOU to all of you who have stuck around all these years. And thanks to all of you who have just recently decided to follow along! You very much rock. 

(shout-out to my family who has been reading my blog ever since my posts were 99% American Girl-related and to Tarissa from In the Bookcase - who was my very first commenter and who has stuck around for five years! Just wow.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015


January 13th was the day in which the sky finally decided to sprinkle white stuff on Ireland. If I were Anne Shirley, I'd say that it was extremely thrilling - that it gave me several thrills, in fact.

I really just hope that I never get to the point in life where the words "It's snowing" fails to make me jump up and down.

reading: Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.
listening to: Into the Woods and 1989.
wishing: cups of tea wouldn't go cold so quickly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014

“A good book is an event in my life.”   

- Stendhal 


This is sort of late, but at least it's still January, right?

So, in 2014 I did this:

Yay for 100%! (I just barely made it - finished the 60th book in the very last hour of 2014!)
So many of those books were brilliant. Let's talk about them.

Two Important-ish Things:
- These are in no particular order. Putting them in order of favorites would make my brain hurt.
- I'm not going to tell anything about the book itself (because I want to keep this short!), I'm just going to tell you my thoughts on them. If you want to know more, click on the title to check it out on

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Just wow. A painful book to read, but incredibly beautiful and moving. It became a new favorite historical fiction of mine (after The Book Thief, of course!).

Cress by Marissa Meyer
Book #3 in The Lunar Chronicles, and it was my favorite so far. Crazy fun to read. Lovable characters, action-packed plot, humorous dialogue. Perfection. (Give me Winter right now please.)

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
Of course I adored this (here's my fangirl post in case you missed it). I don't think there's ever been a fictional world as detailed and intricate as Middle Earth. It's epic. The best part about reading these books is that now I won't get, "YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOKS YET?" all the time. ;)

The Healer's Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson
Earlier in the year I wrote a post about Christian fiction, and I mentioned how I was going to try to seek out and read more of it. I ended up discovering Melanie Dickerson's lovely fairytale retellings. Dickerson's books are unique, adorable, and terribly addicting. The Healer's Apprentice was the first one I read and it remains my favorite.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
This book blew me away. It also shattered me. I'm still recovering from it. Not a "fun" read, but it was intense, thought-provoking, and extremely well-written. I recommend this, but read at your own risk, as this book is quite violent (I'M STILL TRAUMATIZED), and there was also some strong language.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
One of the sweetest books I've ever read. I want to hug it forever. Just read it, k?

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.
You're the best, Uncle Rick. This final book in The Heroes of Olympus series was completely enjoyable. It wasn't as "Wow!" as I was expecting after a whole series of build-up, and I was mad at the lack of Percy, but this is still a five-star book for me (I'm blindly loyal). Also Leo is my life.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This year I became a Maze Runner fangirl (see here). Not since The Hunger Games has there been a book that I've had such a hard time putting down. I love the characters, the concept, the twists. Fantastic book, and the series continues to be fantastic.

The Legend of Holly Claus by Brittney Ryan
This made it onto the list because it is one of the loveliest Christmas books that I've ever read. Although it was only published a couple years ago, it had the same old-fashioned charm that you'd find in a Victorian children's classic. I'm definitely going to pick this up again some Christmas.

Honorable mentions:  
1. It is Not Death to Die by Jim Cromarty - thorough and interesting biography of Hudson Taylor.
2. Pegasus by Robin McKinley - A great McKinley book but the ending was whaaat?
3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli - Wow.

And that's it! Hope you enjoyed this. Do let me know what some of your favorites of 2014 were!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Thoughts on "Into the Woods"

(for those of you who have not seen Into the Woods yet - don't worry, this is spoiler free!)

Nice is different than good.
Charming does not mean sincere.
Wishes come true, not free.

After seeing the trailer for Into the Woods, I knew that this film would be just my cup of tea. It's a musical, it's Disney, it's retellings of fairy-tales, it's Chris Pine. What more could I ask for?

I was not disappointed.

I wish.
More than anything,
More than life,
I wish.

The music was gorgeous. Some songs are beautiful and chilling ("Stay With Me" and "Giants in the Sky"), some are just plain hilarious ("AGONY"), and some make me tear up ("No One is Alone"). Visually, the movie was stunning. Minimal CGI, for the win. It makes a big difference to use real locations instead of a green-screen room. The acting was great (not surprising with a cast like that!), and I also appreciated that the film was "Disney-fied"- much of the inappropriate content found in the original stage production was left out.

What surprised me, though, was that this movie turned out to be more than just a fun, fluffy movie. It was darker, deeper, and more thought-provoking than I expected.

You see, in my opinion, good stories make you think. They ask you hard questions and force you to ponder them even after the credits are finished rolling.

In this film, unlike in the age old tales we've heard a hundred times before, the characters get what they wish for, but it doesn't give them a happily ever after. Into the Woods presented a more accurate representation of what happens so often in the world we live in. Things aren't always what they seem. People make big, terrible mistakes. People get what they want but are left unsatisfied.

Princes wait there in the world, it's true.
Princes, yes, but wolves and humans, too.

As I said, the film poses some interesting questions, but it doesn't answer them - or at least, it didn't give answers that I agree with. As a Christian, though, I know that the answers can be found in the God's Word.

I appreciated that this film was more then just entertaining. I found it to be impactful and emotional as well as being completely enjoyable.

People make mistakes.
Father, Mothers.
Holding to their own,
Thinking they're alone.

You are not alone.

Usually after seeing a movie - even a great one - I'm not all that eager to see it again right away. But this time, I'm pining for the DVD. Waiting is..."AGONYYYY!" *rips shirt*

Did you go see Into the Woods? What did you think? If you haven't seen it yet...well, I think it's worth the six euro movie tickets.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

We End Our Roman Holiday // Rome, Part III

In case you missed:

The thing that strikes me the most when I visit a different country is just how incredibly different they are.

In Rome, people spoke Italian - a lively, musical language that sounded completely foreign to my ears. People rode on scooters and motorbikes and in shiny Ferraris. There were pieces of history everywhere you looked. There were bakeries and gelato parlors on every corner, and the streets were filled with people telling you to "Come to our restaurant!" or to "Buy a selfie-stick!". The sky was blue and the sun was shining.

It was nothing like Ireland. Or America. Or anywhere else I've been.

I loved how different it was.

Our final day in Rome was, just like the two before, lovely. We again headed out into the chilly morning air, braved the busy train station, and hopped onto another Metro.

First stop was the Spanish Steps. They were basically just some pretty steps, but the place was swarming with tourists.

|I think these two have something to do with it's publicity ;) |

 |The name for this fountain translates into: "Fountain of the Ugly Boat". Poor boat :( |

We wandered around a bit, stopping to peek inside a cathedral or two (you just never know what it could looks like inside! Could be another Sistine Chapel...).

We saw the Trevi Fountain, but unfortunately it was undergoing construction work. It was hidden behind scaffolding!
|Heather showing me what it was supposed look like. :D|

Next: The Pantheon. Not to be confused with the Parthenon. I still struggle with that.

According to Wikipedia: The Pantheon is a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC - 14 AD) and rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD.

Yeah. Wow.

Walking along the Tiber...

|Favorite view.|

Next we stopped for lunch. We had pizza. Of course.

 |I'm never going to forget eating pizza on this street in Rome.|

|This market was so fun to explore.|

Later that day we saw the Mouth of Truth.

|Apparently it will bite your hand off if you lie while your hand is in it's mouth. Nice guy.|


|The very last photo I took in Rome|

Thus ended our final day in the beautiful city of Rome.

This trip was such an adventure and I loved being there with my mom and sister. (Thank you so much Heather - it was the craziest and best 18th birthday present ever.)

Now there's another country that I'll miss for the rest of my life.

...just kidding, I'm totally going back. I want more pizza.